It’s time to head into the 2000s with the Royal Rumble reviews. I think by this point, WWE had figured out how to book the Rumble match in a more exciting way because the Rumbles through this decade were better than most of them in the 1990s. In case you missed any of the previous reviews, check out the Royal Rumble Match archive here. Let’s get to it.
The 2000 Royal Rumble match featured a lot of top names in the WWF except for Steve Austin. He missed most of 2000 with neck surgery. He was the focus of the three previous Rumbles and he’d be back for the next one, but for this year it was time for somebody else to shine.
WWF Royal Rumble
January 23, 2000
New York, New York
Howard Finkel welcomed us to the Royal Rumble match. Finkel announced that two men will start, then there will be regular intervals of two minutes or less and to be eliminated, a man has to be sent over the top rope to the floor with both feet touching the floor. They showed a clip of the 1995 Royal Rumble when Shawn Michaels held on, he only had one foot touch the floor and then he went back in the ring to eliminate the British Bulldog.
Analysis: By showing that 1995 Royal Rumble clip, it was as if the WWF was telling us that something similar will (or could) happen at this year’s Rumble.
The announcers are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. It’s in New York City, so this might be the best crowd possible at a time when the WWF was a really hot product. The intervals here are officially 90 seconds after a couple of years where they really didn’t establish set intervals.
The #1 entry is D-Lo Brown and #2 is Grandmaster Sexay aka Brian Christopher, who was a part of the Too Cool tag team that loved to dance. The crowd was very hot for Too Cool here. Sexay hits a hurricanrana and a dropkick to the back. D-Lo’s able to avoid elimination. It’s Headbanger Mosh at #3, who comes out sporting green cone bras for some reason. All of a sudden Taka Michinoku and Funaki of Kaientai run in even though they are not in the match. Funaki and Taka quickly get thrown out. Mosh gets hit by the Low Down from D-Lo and then Grandmaster hits a bulldog on Mosh, which knocks his cone bras off. That’s a shame. Christian comes out at #4. The E&C tag team were in full swing at this point, but their characters weren’t heavily developed yet. A huge pop for #5, Rikishi. He’s got the same song as Too Cool. He was getting very popular at this point. He’s a lot different than when he was Headshrinker Fatu, making a difference Fatu and The Sultan. He throws out Mosh and Christian. D-Lo hits a neckbreaker on him and a legdrop, but Rikishi pops up. He hits D-Lo with the Rikishi Driver and throws him out of the ring too. That’s three for Rikishi. He stares at his buddy Grandmaster Sexay, who tries to tell him they are buddies.
The #6 man is the other member of Too Cool, Scotty Too Hotty. The crowd pops huge as they start dancing. They put the shades on Rikishi and the dancing begins just as the lights go off. There’s The Worm from Scotty. Rikishi clotheslines both guys and throws them out simultaneously. That was pretty awesome. They had the crowd in the palm of their hands. Why did the camera zoom in on Rikishi’s ass? Steve Blackman comes in at #7. I would have marked out if he started dancing too. He did not. Rikishi drills him with a Rikishi Driver. I loved that move. It’s an over the shoulder reverse piledriver. He throws Blackman out and he awaits the next person. It’s another big man, Viscera at #8. He used to be Mabel, of course. They both had some different gimmicks over the years. There was a huge reaction to Viscera hitting a belly to belly suplex on Rikishi. Huge splash by Viscera as Lawler spouts the usual dialect about these two being big favorites to win. Viscera misses a splash, so Rikishi superkicks him a few times, hits a shoulder block and throws him out to eliminate him too. Rikishi has eliminated the first 7 guys. It’s The Big Boss Man at #9. He’s a heel. He’s reluctant to get in the ring. He stays on the floor during the entire 90 second time period. There’s a big pop for #10, who is Test. He fights with Boss Man on the floor and rolls him into the ring for Rikishi. Boss Man punches Test in the balls, so Rikishi does it to Boss Man just for fun.
The #11 entrant is a Rumble veteran, The British Bulldog. He’s in heel mode here. Bulldog hits Rikishi with a punch to the balls to getting squashed. That’s a popular move in this match. In at #12 is Gangrel with his blood juice. He does his spit and then walks in. There’s Kaientai again! Yes! Test throws Funaki out right away and Taka takes a sick bump, flying over the top rope to be thrown out too. Those Kaientai run-ins are fun because they are intended for jokes. They show a replay of Taka’s bump as he lands RIGHT ON HIS FACE! Ouch. He did pop up right away, but on replay that looked very painful. We have Edge at #13 to a fairly big babyface pop. He avoids elimination from Bulldog and goes after his former buddy Gangrel. Rikishi hits a Banzai Drop on Bossman. They show Taka’s face first bump again just for fun. A huge pop for Bob Backlund as a surprise entrant at #14. He’s a former WWF Champion and New York’s very familiar with him over the years, so he got a nice ovation. Rikishi misses a splash in the corner, so all six guys gang up on him and throw him out. This has been a well booked Rumble so far. There’s Chris Jericho at #15, who is the Intercontinental Champion. He’s a babyface and he quickly dropkicks Backlund out of the match. He squares off with Edge, which is a preview of a WrestleMania match ten years later. Who knew, right? They show Backlund walking through the crowd because he’s a crazy old man that thinks he’s campaigning.
The second half of the match begins with #16 Crash Holly. Why did Edge just spank Crash repeatedly? Awkward. Not a lot happens for this period. It’s Chyna at #17. She was against Jericho and Hardcore Holly in an IC title match earlier in the night, so she gets to work twice. She charges in, Jericho nearly eliminates her, but she suplexes Jericho out and Boss Man elbows Chyna out of the ring. That’s the second year in a row where Chyna eliminated somebody. The year before it was my hero Mark Henry. It’s Faarooq of The Acolytes at #18. Suddenly the Mean Street Posse (friends of Shane McMahon) attack Faarooq. The Boss Man takes advantage of that and throws Faarooq out of the ring to eliminate him. The Road Dogg is in at #19 as the crowd sings his intro. Yep, that intro was very popular. The crowd chants “We Want Puppies” as Road Dogg comes out. There’s a chant I miss. No women at ringside, though. Crash avoids elimination from Boss Man. There’s Al Snow at #20. Road Dogg eliminates Bulldog, so he wins the dog battle. We’ve got six guys in the ring.
he #21 spot belongs to Val Venis, who is a babyface. Here comes Funaki by himself. He gets quickly thrown out. JR notes that Taka was taken to the hospital. Lawler keeps calling them Chinese, so Ross has to correct him and say Japanese. Not sure why Lawler kept doing that. They showed the Taka face bump again! The hairy beast Prince Albert is #22. Meanwhile, Edge gets eliminated by Snow & Venis. We’ve reached a bit of the lull in the match, which is typical because they like to fill the ring before some of the main event level guys come in. It’s Hardcore Holly at #23, who was in the IC title match earlier in the night. There are nine guys in the ring right now with none of them being major threats to win although Lawler picks Boss Man. Here’s a big name at #24…The Rock. A massive pop for the babyface Rock. He guaranteed that he’s going to win. He knocks out Boss Man with a spit punch. He doesn’t eliminate anybody else though. It would have been good to do two or three right away. Mr. Ass Billy Gunn is #25 and he goes right for The Rock. Crash whips in Rock, but Rock DDTs him and throws him out of the ring. Road Dogg spent about two minutes holding onto the bottom rope. That’s a great strategy.
“Well…well it’s a Big Show” at #26, who is Lawler’s official pick again. Show’s a heel here. He turned face and heel so many times in his career, but he’s a heel at this point. Show eliminates Test and Gangrel. Huge hiptoss on Rock and a press slam on Hardcore Holly. There’s Bradshaw (JBL) of the Acolytes at #27. It’s the Mean Street Posse again. They go after Bradshaw and he throws all three of them out, but the Outlaws throw Bradshaw out of the match. Kane is #28 and he is with Tori, who I always found pretty attractive although she didn’t have a great personality. It’s amazing how big boobs are cure for a lack of a personality? But I digress! Kane throws Venis out via chokeslam. Rock hits a big chokeslam on Holly. Show does a press slam to Gunn. Here’s The Godfather at #29 showing that Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy. While the Ho Train comes out, Kane eliminates Prince Albert. There’s Funaki again! Snow throws him out. He’s been eliminated four times now. Lawler requests Taka’s elimination and there he is for the fourth time…landing on his face. The last man at #30 is X-Pac, who is a heel as part of DeGeneration X.
It’s elimination time as Snow clotheslines Holly out. There are eight guys left. Big Show eliminates Godfather. Rock hits a Samoan Drop on Snow and throws him out. Mr. Ass eliminates his partner The Road Dogg and Kane eliminates Mr. Ass.
The final four are Big Show, Kane, X-Pac and Rock.
The Outlaws yank Kane out of the ring so they can beat on him. X-Pac misses the spinning heel kick, so Rock grabs him by the head and he whips him over to the top to the floor. That was an awesome bump right there, but nothing can top Taka’s! The refs never saw X-Pac’s elimination because they were with the Outlaws & Kane, so he slides back into the fray. That’s similar to Austin in 1997 when he won. X-Pac hits the spinning heel kick as the two big guys go at it with Kane hitting an impressive enziguri. He bodyslams Big Show. X-Pac hits a spinning heel kick to eliminate Kane and then a Bronco Buster on Big Show. Show is pissed, however, and he press slams X-Pac to the floor. We’re down to two with Rock hitting a spinebuster. People’s Elbow time to a ridiculously huge pop. Rock tries to throw him out, but Big Show comes back with a chokeslam. That was pretty great. Show puts him on his shoulder, walks him towards the ropes, but Rock holds the top rope and hangs on to win as Big Show goes stumbling out of the ring. Rock wins. Strong finish.
Winner: The Rock
The match ended at 51:49.
FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS
– I liked this match a lot because it was very evenly booked without one or two guys overshadowing the others. In comparison to the 1999 Rumble where Austin and McMahon were the only part of the match that mattered it was a breath of fresh air, really. You watched this one and the eliminations actually mattered although like usual you knew there were only a few threats to win. There was no case of overbooking or needless happenings to hurt the match. It was a regular Royal Rumble that was well booked. Thankfully the years to come would be similar to this. They found the formula that worked.
– I was reading in a recent edition of the Wrestling Observer that said Rock was supposed to dangle with one foot on the ground like Shawn Michaels in 1995 to win the match. It didn’t happen. Both of his feet hit, so they changed the WM16 main event to a four way with HHH, Big Show, Foley & Rock, which was a big letdown. Thankfully they had back to back Rock-HHH title matches in the months that followed (Backlash & Judgment Day) that were both awesome, but it did ruin WrestleMania’s main event a bit.
– I love the New York City crowd. So much energy. So much passion. It’s at the very top with Chicago and Toronto as my favorite. Others are good too, but those three are the best to me.
– The four run-ins from Kaientai were funny. It’s a shame Taka got hurt, so he couldn’t join Funaki the last two times. I thought the ones by the Posse were a little much, but it did further that storyline too.
– I thought Road Dogg hugging the bottom rope for several minutes straight was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in Rumble history. Great strategy!
FACTS & OPINIONS
Person that lasted the longest: Test at 26:17. Really? Yes.
Most Eliminations: Rikishi with 7.
Best Performers (3): The Rock – His energy was fantastic like usual.
Rikishi – The gimmick really worked for him. The fans loved him.
Big Show – He was booked perfectly as the dominant big guy. I wish it was like that his whole career.
Best Elimination: Taka’s face bump is by far the best. Maybe the best ever. We can say that because he wasn’t seriously injured!
Match Rating: ***3/4 It was well done from start to finish. There was a bit of a lull in there, but otherwise an enjoyable match.
The 14th Royal Rumble came at a time when the WWF was at its absolute best, in my humble opinion. I think the period from the 2000 Rumble to WrestleMania X7 was the best 15 month run in the history of the company due to the talent on the roster, the stories they told and the matches they had. A lot of the top guys were at or near their prime and they had a good mix of younger guys in the midcard scene as well. As a result, you have the 2001 Royal Rumble with a stacked lineup of talented wrestlers heading into the WMX7 PPV that is the best in WWE history.
The big story going in was Steve Austin’s return after missing most of 2000 with a neck injury. Could he complete the comeback to win the Rumble for a third time?
WWF Royal Rumble
January 21, 2001
New Orleans, Louisiana
The announcers are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. The intervals are back to the 2 minute mark this time. The only thing we know going in is that Rikishi, a heel, would be #30 in this match.
There’s Jeff Hardy as the #1 entrant. In at #2 is Bull Buchanan of the Right To Censor stable. At this time the Hardys were still a very popular tag team in the WWF, so Jeff was very over here. It’s Matt Hardy in the #3 spot. He goes right for Buchanan, they double team Bull and then they clothesline him out of the ring. The Hardys wrestle eachother with Matt trying to eliminate Jeff and then he hits a back suplex. Jeff comes back. He tries to eliminate Matt as the #4 competitor comes in and it’s Faarooq of the APA. He hits a double clothesline on the Hardy brothers. They avoid his attacks, Matt hits the Twist of Fate and Jeff hits the Swanton. They throw Faarooq out. Matt tries to throw Jeff out, but he hangs on and they’re so serious now that they take their shirts off to fight. Jeff’s so mad that he ties his shirt around his waist! What a badass! Or weirdo. Take your pick. Jeff hits Matt with the Twist of Fate. Huge pop for the #5 entrant comedian Drew Carey. He had a PPV event the following Saturday, so he was there to promote it. The crowd starts a “Drew” chant. The Hardys keep fighting while Drew slowly gets in the ring. Matt and Jeff are fighting on the turnbuckle and they eliminate eachother via a suplex. Drew’s all alone in the ring, celebrating.
The #6 spot belongs to Kane while Drew starts freaking out. Kane’s sporting the mask and the red singlet in this era. He turned heel and face so many times in this era, but he was basically a face at this point. “Thank God Drew Carey’s wearing black plants,” says JR in reference to the fact that he’s probably pissing himself in fear. Drew tries to offer him money. Kane doesn’t want it. He chokes Drew and Raven came in at #7 with a kendo stick. Drew climbs over the ropes to eliminate himself.
Raven was the Hardcore Champion here, so he brought in a weapon. He slid out to the floor to use a fire extinguisher on Kane and he threw in trash cans. Al Snow showed up out of nowhere to attack Raven even though he was early. It turns out that Al Snow is #8 after all. He brings more weapons in. He even has a bowling ball that’s in a bag. He rolls it into Raven’s nuts because Raven had his legs open of course. That drew a nice pop. Snow and Raven took turns attacking Kane with the trashcan lids, but he didn’t go down. They do a double drop toe hold onto the trashcan. Kane sits up. There’s Perry Saturn at #9. King says things are a little nipply tonight as Terri comes out with Saturn while wearing a tight outfit up top. Kane press slams Saturn and whips Snow down. Then Raven slows him down and the other two attack. There’s Steve Blackman at #10 with those sticks of his. He goes after Al Snow. Oh no, Headcheese is erupting before our eyes! This is like the Megapowers all over again! Not really. There are some small weapon shots going on, but nothing major.
It’s time to turn it up for #11 Grandmaster Sexay of Too Cool. The crowd loves the dancing. He uses the trashcan lid to beat on some people. Then Raven uses the lid to hit some people. Kane gets a trash can and he eliminates Sexay. He throws Blackman out, finishing him off with a trashcan lid. He throws Snow out and boots Raven out. There goes Saturn too. The ring is empty except for Kane. That was an awesome run right there. We’ve got a surprise at #12, the Honky Tonk Man. He grabs the microphone and gets into the ring calling himself the best Intercontinental Champion of all time. He knows we want to hear him sing his song. Kane stands there staring at him as the Honky Tonk Man starts. Kane grabs the guitar and smashes it over his head to a huge pop. He eliminates Honky Tonk Man. The Rock is #13. He gets a massive babyface pop as the crowd is going crazy. Big clothesline on Kane. Kane knocks him down with a clothesline. They do some exchanges, but nobody gets thrown out. There’s The Goodfather at #14, which is another gimmick for Charles Wright in the Rumble following previous gimmicks like Papa Shango, Kama and The Godfather. He was a gimmick whore. Rock eliminates him after 14 seconds. Kane hits Rock with a suplex. Rock fights back with punches, but Kane knocks him down with a side slam. It’s Tazz at #15, who gets a quick double choke from Kane and then gets punched out of the ring to be eliminated. That’s a 10 second appearance for Tazz. He didn’t wrestle for that much longer after this and this was his only Rumble appearance after debuting in the WWF at the 2000 Rumble. Rock nearly eliminates Kane and the crowd believes it might happen, but it doesn’t. Rock hits a Samoan Drop as both guys lay down awaiting the next person.
It’s a future WWE Champion at #16 Bradshaw of the APA. Rock gets a big clothesline on Kane and Bradshaw hits a big one on Rock just for fun. Rock hits the spinebuster on Bradshaw and then he gets knocked down by a Kane clothesline. It’s a clothesline fest. It’s Albert, no longer a Prince, at #17. Big clothesline by Bradshaw on Albert as JR mentions that Bradshaw loves the clothesline. Ya think? Hardcore Holly is #18 as I think of how far he’s come from that awful Sparky Plugg gimmick. I don’t miss the mid 90s Rumble recaps, trust me. Bradshaw and Holly try to get rid of Rock and the crowd believes that it might happen, but Rock hangs on. Rock comes back with a clothesline on Bradshaw and nearly eliminates Kane. The big man is able to stay in, though. It’s K-Kwik getting rowdy at #19. He is now known as R-Truth of course. Kane hits a huge powerslam on Holly while Bradshaw destroys Kwik at the same time. There are six guys in the ring at the moment. More Right To Censor as Val Venis is #20 sporting a tie. Choke the guy with a tie! I always used to yell that about IRS when I was a kid. Kane hits him with a spinebuster. Bradshaw hits Kwik with a football tackle or I guess you could call it a spear. Rock hits a powerslam on Kwik, who is getting his ass kicked in this match. That’s the truth.
The European Champion William Regal comes in at #21. I should add all the weapons are out of the ring by now as Regal hits a suplex on Kwik. Rock gets a spinebuster on Venis. Bradshaw hits a couple of clotheslines on Val. I wonder if he likes clotheslines? Val charges into Bradshaw and guess what move he does? A clothesline. Test is #22 and he quickly throws out Regal as we have eight guys in the ring at the moment. Not a whole lot happens during this time. It’s a surprise entrant at #23…the Big Show. He was out for a few months to end 2000 because he wasn’t in good enough shape. They sent him down to OVW and this was his return to a very nice pop. He’s working in a t-shirt. He throws out Test and press slams K-Kwik rather easily. Chokeslam for Albert and Bradshaw. Chokeslam for Venis. Chokeslam for Holly. Chokeslam on Kane that was very impressive. Rock kicks him in the balls, hits his punches and clotheslines him out. Crowd goes nuts. Big Show was only in the ring for about a minute and a half, but that was very impressive. After his elimination, Big Show pulls Rock out of the ring and sets up the announce table. He puts Rock through the table with a chokeslam. This was a great way of re-introducing Big Show. Oh, I should add that Crash Holly was #24, but they barely mentioned that due to the Show-Rock story. It’s so nice of the heels to remove the TV monitors from the desk. They are so thoughtful. Everybody in the ring tries to eliminate Kane, but they can’t do it. The Undertaker is #25 as the American Badass on the motorcycle. He saves his brother Kane since they were on good terms at this time. Undertaker signaled to Kane, so Taker throws out Bradshaw, Kane throws out Crash, Taker throws out Hardcore, Kane throws out Albert and Undertaker throws out Val leaving us with Undertaker, Kane and The Rock on the floor. The brothers have a long staredown as the announcers wonder what might happen. Nice “Sara” tattoo on the neck by Undertaker. These days it looks like an ink blot. That’s why you don’t tattoo your wife’s name on your neck, fellas. You never know. That’s some real talk for you.
The #26 man is Scotty Too Hotty, who is very reluctant to get in the ring due to Undertaker and Kane staring at him. Undertaker and Kane take turns beating on him. Boot to the face, bodyslam and a double chokeslam. They throw Scotty out of the ring together because they like to share brotherly moments like that. They show Rock still struggling at the announce table. The glass breaks for #27 as the crowd goes nuts for “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Before Austin can get there, HHH comes out to attack him because they had an ongoing feud. Austin cost HHH the belt earlier in the night. A month later they’d have one of my favorite matches in WWF history. If you want to know why the WWF was so good at this time look at the five guys going at it right here. They are very talented. Triple H continues to attack Austin on the floor with Austin bleeding now. Rock is getting beat up in the ring by Kane and Undertaker. Here’s Billy Gunn at #28, known as “The One” in this match. I don’t know what that gimmick meant except that it rhymed with his last name. Finally, the refs pull HHH off Austin. Stone Cold’s blood is all over the place. Jim Ross going nuts and he freaks out as Undertaker hits a DDT on Rock, saying he’s never seen a DDT like that in his life. The #29 entrant is the former Meng from WCW, Haku. He had a run in the WWF as Haku and this was his return. He only lasted in the WWF until the summer when he got released. They show Austin on the floor and JR notes how tough Austin would be to win the match after being attacked the way he was. The crowd chants for Austin as he tries to make it back in. The #30 entrant we know is Rikishi, who is in his heel run after his “I did it for the Rock” storyline to end 2000 where they found out he was the one that ran over Stone Cold in his car. His heel run wasn’t nearly as good as his babyface work. He sees Austin in the aisle and they start brawling. JR is spazzing out! He is going nuts, man. Haha I miss JR!
Austin eliminates Haku with a clothesline leaving us with six guys. Undertaker hits a chokeslam on Rikishi. Undertaker goes to throw Rock out, but Rock holds on. Kane gets a big boot on Austin while Rikishi superkicks Undertaker and Undertaker is eliminated. Undertaker got softened up because he gave Rikishi headbutts, which Rikishi no-sold due to the “Samoans have harder heads than anybody else” rule. I remember thinking at the time that they would do Undertaker vs. Rikishi at WrestleMania 17. That didn’t happen. They did Undertaker vs. Triple H instead. We’ve got four main event level guys in there plus Billy Gunn. Lawler picks Rikishi to win as he sets up Rock for the Banzai Drop. Rock gets up, low blows him and punches him to eliminate him.
Final four is Rock, Kane, Gunn and Austin.
One of these four just doesn’t belong. Gunn actually hits the Fameasser on Austin, but then Austin quickly throws him out leaving us with three. Now that’s a little bit better. People always ask why do I dislike Billy Gunn. Because he was overrated and overused by WWE. He was always a marginal talent. The crowd freaks out as Austin & Rock lock eyes. Austin’s face is a bloody mess. Here’s your WrestleMania preview. Spit punch by Rock that Austin oversells. He elbows his way out of the Rock Bottom and hits a Stunner that Rock oversells like always. I like how Rock sold it, though. Austin hits the Thesz Press on Kane to a huge pop. Austin goes for a clothesline on Rock, but Rock comes back with the Rock Bottom. Rock throws Kane out through the middle ropes, so he’s still in the match leaving us with Rock and Austin again. Austin’s close to dumping him out, so Rock rakes his eyes. JR is losing his voice in excitement. Rock holds up Austin in a bodyslam position, so Kane sneaks in and dumps Rock out of the ring to eliminate him. That’s 11 eliminations for Kane in this match. Austin charges in, Kane catches him and hits a huge chokeslam. Austin’s full of blood while Kane’s been in the match for over 50 minutes. Austin hits Kane with a low blow that JR calls a “XFL-like punt.” I’m pretty sure this is the only Rumble with a XFL reference. Kane rolls out to the floor to grab a steel chair. Austin kicks it out of his hands and after a struggle he hits a great Stone Cold Stunner. Austin hits Kane with three consecutive chair shots to the head, Kane stumbles back into the ropes and Austin clotheslines him out of the ring to win the match.
Winner: Steve Austin
JR: “STONE COLD! STONE COLD! STONE COLD IS GOING TO WRESTLEMANIA! By God they’re on their feet in New Orleans! The toughest son of a bitch in the WWF has done it!” That’s why JR is the best ever, folks.
The match ended at 61:55.
FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS
– The way they booked Kane as a monster was phenomenal. He was the most dominant person in the history of the Rumble as he eliminated 11 guys in 53 minutes of action. He didn’t take too many bumps, but I was cool with that because it really made him look strong. It’s not like they booked him so strong that it hurt the match. It helped the match because Austin eliminating him made Austin look badass. It also made Kane look great because it took three chairshots to the head to get him out of the ring.
– It was a really good Rumble with smart booking from start to finish. I enjoyed so many different aspects of it from Kane’s dominance, to the hardcore action, Big Show’s attack on Rock, the Kane-Undertaker domination, Austin fighting back from the attack at the hands of Triple H and then the finish where Kane eliminated Rock even though I thought Austin would be the one to do that. I don’t think there was a whole lot I would have changed here if I was booking it.
– There were a lot of fun moments here. I liked how the first third of the match was hardcore style because that’s different for a Rumble. I also liked the Drew Carey thing. It was silly, but funny. You have an hour long match, so you need to have light hearted moments too. If you do it early in the match it works because the last half is usually the more serious part where you want to up the intensity.
– I liked how the battle between Austin, Rock and Kane at the end lasted five minutes or so. Let them tell a story because they were the ones that carried the match. You had Kane’s dominant story, Austin overcoming the odds as the babyface and Rock was trying to recover from Big Show’s attack as well. The crowd reaction for Austin-Rock was fantastic too. It got me really excited for WMX7, which definitely delivered the goods.
– This might have been Jim Ross’ best Rumble performance. He was YELLING by the end of it and he made you care. It wasn’t forced. It felt real. That’s why he’s the best ever because he made you care. That’s what wrestling announcers are supposed to do.
FACTS & OPINIONS
Person that lasted the longest: Kane at 53:46.
Most Eliminations: Kane with 11.
Best Performers (3): Kane – This is my favorite Kane match ever. Better than any of his singles matches. I loved him in this.
The Rock – Very good work by the People’s Champ in nearly 39 minutes of action.
Steve Austin – He spent much of the match selling because of the blood and it made his comeback work.
Best Elimination: Austin eliminating Kane at the end was the best because of how strong Kane was booked for over 50 minutes.
Match Rating: **** It is only the second Rumble to reach the four star (out of five) level to this point.
The 15th Royal Rumble was the last one under the World Wrestling Federation name as the company would officially become World Wrestling Entertainment in the spring of 2002.
They also did the “brand extension” a few months later in 2002 as a way to get more people on the shows with some being exclusive to Raw while others were exclusive to Smackdown. Due to all that, it was a big year for the company. Let’s see if they could start it out right with the Rumble.
WWF Royal Rumble
January 20, 2002
The announcers are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. The intervals are at 2 minutes for this one.
The #1 entry is Rikishi with Goldust in the #2 spot. Goldust turns his back on him and takes a punch to the back. Goldust avoids elimination. I have to say Goldust throws some of the best punches in wrestling history. Rikishi comes close to eliminating him again. Rikishi dominates to end the time period as The Big Boss Man is in at #3. Goldust’s on the top rope, so Rikishi whips Boss Man into him, he squares Goldust and Rikishi squashes both of them. Wow, great flip bump by Rikishi off a Boss Man clothesline. Here’s Bradshaw of the APA at #4. Big shoulderblock on Goldust as Boss Man works on Rikishi, but Rikishi turns it around and delivers the Stinkface to Boss Man. It seemed extra long too. That’s ridiculously disgusting, fella. Rikishi eliminates Boss Man. Go wash your face for a couple of hours after that. Bradshaw hits a powerbomb on Goldust. The #5 participant is Lance Storm, who gets stunned across the top rope by Goldust. The four guys pair off a bit, but nobody really gets close to being eliminated.
What does everybody want? Al Snow at #6. Ross mentions he’s a 18 year veteran. Huge Clothesline From Hell by Bradshaw on Storm. That was a really great spot. Crowd chants “We Want Head” for Al. It’s another gimmick for #7 Billy Gunn, who is just “Billy” now as part of the heel Billy & Chuck tag team. His name was always Billy Gunn in WWE, but he had so many variations of it throughout his career. Storm nearly gets eliminated by Snow, but he hangs on and they fight on the ring apron. Snow kicks him to eliminate him. Billy eliminates Bradshaw leaving us with four guys. A huge name at #8 as The Undertaker comes out to a massive reaction. He was in his heel “Big Evil” American Badass persona here. I loved this version of the guy. He cut some great promos. He portrayed a bully really well. Chokeslam for Billy. He chokeslams Goldust over the top to the floor. He throws Snow out. He boots Rikishi and throws him out too. Then he throws out Billy. That’s four eliminations for The Undertaker in under two minutes. The look with the leather pants, the tank top and the short hair is very different too. There’s Matt Hardy at #9 to a huge pop. Lita jumps in the ring with him. She hits Undertaker with a low blow. She bails as Matt tries to eliminate Undertaker. JR kept referencing the Hardy’s problems with Undertaker. When they turned Undertaker heel in late 2001 they used a lot of people to do it and it absolutely worked. It’s Jeff Hardy at #10, who saves Matt from elimination. They work together on Undertaker with Lita joining the fray as well. Undertaker comes back with a double clothesline. They double team Undertaker and Jeff hits a Swanton on Undertaker. They do the Hardy double team, but Undertaker catches Jeff and throws him out. Last Ride powerbomb by Undertaker on Hardy. I always loved that move. He throws Matt out. That’s the 6th elimination for Undertaker, who is alone in the ring again.
The #11 spot belongs to Tough Enough 1 winner Maven, who was a rookie. Lawler starts laughing. Undertaker boots him down right away. Undertaker puts Maven on his shoulder, but he sees Lita standing on the apron and shoves her off. Matt and Jeff attack Undertaker because they’re sore losers. Undertaker throws them out again. He stands by the ropes, tells them to get their asses out of his ring and then Maven dropkicks Undertaker in the back to eliminate him! “MY GOD MY GOD I DON’T BELIEVE IT!” says JR. He calls it the biggest shocker in the history of the Rumble. I agree. The crowd is going absolutely crazy as Maven has this “oh shit what did I do?” kind of look on his face while Undertaker is pissed off. This was classic. Everybody was talking about it during the match and the next day. Undertaker throws Maven out through the middle ropes and beats on him around the ring. Unprotected chair shot to the head! Ouch. Undertaker even takes out a camera guy! It’s time to turn it up for #12 Scotty 2 Hotty. He’s too busy dancing to notice the Undertaker, so Undertaker decks him with a right hand. He goes back in the ring to throw Maven over the top, which eliminates him. I’m guessing one of the refs told him to put him over the top so that they can say he got eliminated. He throws Maven into the crowd and continues to beat on him up the aisle. They show Undertaker beating on him by the concession area. “Christian, Christian, at last you’re on your own!” is #13. If the song doesn’t give it away he was a heel by this point. Undertaker leaves Maven lying by the popcorn stand. Maven’s head went through the glass of the popcorn machine. He was cut open. Scotty stumbles into the ring to fight Christian. “Yo it’s me, it’s me, it’s DDP” at #14 with his gimmick of the guy that smiles a lot. Christian hits a reverse DDT on him. There’s the Diamond Cutter (RKO) on Christian by Page. Scotty kicked him through the ropes to the floor. Bulldog to Christian followed by the WORM by Scotty. This move was very over, in case you didn’t know. Page quickly throws Scotty out. Now it’s time for Chuck (Palumbo) at #15 of the Billy & Chuck team. I’m sure they got a lot of chicks with this gimmick. Speaking of chicks, every time I saw DDP in the WWF I was hoping his ridiculously hot wife (at the time) Kimberly would show up with him. She never did. She’s definitely one of my favorite women in wrestling in terms of looks.
It’s Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy time as The Godfather comes out at #16. The announcers push that The Godfather has gone legit with his ho’s because he has an escort service now. He brings out 12 ladies that dance with him at the entranceway. The camera only shows Godfather for nearly two minutes as JR tells us that DDP got eliminated by Christian and Chuck. They show it on the replay as Christian dumped him out. Godfather gets in the ring finally as Albert comes in at #17 to Scotty 2 Hotty’s music because they tried a deal where he was Scotty’s partner. It didn’t really work. JR calling him the “Hip Hop Hippo” was fun, though. Chuck & Christian eliminate Albert. Godfather misses the Ho Train charge and Christian & Chuck eliminate Godfather. The #18 spot belongs to Perry Saturn as the crowd seems upset that The Godfather is gone. It’s okay because he’s gone legit now. A HUGE pop for #19 Stone Cold Steve Austin. The camera goes to the wide lens shot to show the reaction to Austin as well as his full entrance. He was back to being a babyface after the heel run for much of 2001 and he was doing the “WHAT?” chant very often. The crowd chanted “WHAT?” for him. He throws Christian out, stunner for Saturn, he throws Chuck out and then he throws Saturn out. He looks at his watch (not really wearing one), rolls out, grabs Christian, hits a Stunner on him and throws him out again. He does it to Chuck too. Then he sits on the apron yelling “WHAT?” to the crowd. There’s the returning Val Venis at #20, who comes out slowly while they show some ladies in the crowd. Austin stomps a mudhole on him in the corner as the crowd chants “WHAT?” along with every stomp. Val comes back a bit, taking Austin down, but Stone Cold comes back with the Thesz Press.
The final third of the match begins with Test entering at #21 sporting his “I can’t be fired because I’m immune” gimmick. You can tell they were really high on Test here because JR was pushing him hard. Maybe if his name wasn’t as awful as Test he could have capitalized on the push attempts they gave him. Test accidentally boots Venis, so Austin clotheslines him out and then he hits a Stunner on Test leading to his elimination. Austin goes back to the “checking the wrist watch” gimmick leading to the next entrant Triple H at #22. This was his return from the torn quad injury he suffered in May of 2001 in a match where he teamed with Austin against Jericho & Benoit – a nearly five star match by the way. They did a fabulous job of hyping his return with video packages, leading to a big return on Raw prior to this event that garnered one of the biggest pops ever in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. There’s a huge staredown here. Hunter looks as jacked as ever, by the way. They start throwing punches as the crowd goes nuts. There’s The Hurricane at #23 as Austin and HHH do the double clothesline spot. Helms was basically a comedic babyface here. He chokes HHH with his left hand and Austin with his right. They look at eachother like “what’s this guy?” and they throw him out. That was classic right there. Hunter gets Austin down with a clothesline, but he can’t get him out yet. Faarooq comes in at #24 and he’s quickly thrown out by HHH in about 30 seconds. Not a whole lot happens while we wait for the next guy. A returning Mr. Perfect is #25. He hasn’t been in a Rumble since 1993 due to injuries and also being in WCW. The action slows down for the three of them as we await the next man.
It’s Kurt Angle at #26, who is entering his first Rumble (he had matches at the previous two Rumbles) and he’s also sporting the hair that he would soon lose. He was in his heel role here as the crowd chants “you suck” in his direction. You’ve got four of the best performers in WWE history in the ring right now, all of whom have a lot of great matches under their belts. Austin and Angle are my second and third favorite wrestlers of all time after Shawn Michaels while Perfect was one of my childhood favorites and I’ve usually enjoyed Triple H’s work. The final five trot out with Big Show coming in at #27. He headbutts Angle and hits a chokeslam on Perfect. HHH and Austin double team Show, but he hits a double clothesline on them. Angle goes for a German Suplex that doesn’t work very well. Show dominates everybody with headbutts, kicks and clotheslines for the entire two minute period. There’s a chokeslam on Triple H. It’s Kane at #28 to set up the showdown with Big Show while everybody else is down. He’s still sporting the mask while JR hypes up the record 11 eliminations he did the year before. Show and Kane start throwing punches. Show hits him with a boot and they do a double choke spot. Kane hits a lowblow and picks him up to bodyslam Show out of the match. I don’t remember that elimination, but that was pretty sweet. Austin hits a Stunner on Kane and Angle eliminates Kane with an Angle Slam over the top rope. They would have a match at WrestleMania. The year before was the Rumble where the big men like Kane and Show got a chance to shine. Not this one. It’s Rob Van Dam to a huge pop at #29. He hits a Five Star Frog Splash on Angle right away. Then he takes down Hunter, Austin and Perfect with kicks. Rolling Thunder on Austin. Hunter hits a Pedigree on RVD to keep him down. Everybody is out. Perfect hits a suplex on Angle. The #30 spot belongs to Booker T, who enters his first Royal Rumble as a heel. We’ve got six left. He quickly throws out RVD leaving us with 5. Spinarooni time by Booker. Austin hits a Stunner and Booker goes flying over the top rope after the Stunner.
Final four: Angle, Perfect, Austin and Hunter.
Austin hits a slingshot on HHH leading to Angle hitting the Angle Slam on HHH. Angle hits three rolling German Suplexes on Austin, but Austin fights back with a low blow to break free. Angle and Perfect nearly eliminate Austin. Austin nearly eliminates Perfect, so Angle charges in and dumps Austin out of the match. Austin pulls Angle out of the ring to beat on him, so Angle follows and throws him into the ring steps. Austin grabs a chair and goes back in the ring. Chair shots to Angle and Perfect. He even does one to Triple H just for the hell of it. Perfect and Kurt work together, but that doesn’t work well. Perfect Plex on Angle to a huge pop! The flying snapmare! Hunter gets back up to eliminate Perfect. We’re down to Triple H and Angle now. Angle hits an overhead belly to belly. He’s close to eliminating HHH, but Hunter fights back with punches. Hunter charges, Angle hits a backdrop, but HHH hangs on with his feet dangling. Hunter comes back with the knee to the face, Angle stumbles towards the ropes and Hunter clotheslines him out to win. The crowd gives him a massive pop.
Winner: Triple H
The match ended at 69:22.
FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS
– The winner of the match was obvious from the moment they said Triple H would be in the match. It was the right call to have him win after an emotional comeback and it didn’t hurt the match at all. The booking was so strong and the work in the match was pretty good too. A very fun match.
– This was Steve Austin’s last Rumble, which we didn’t know at the time, and I think it might have cemented his legacy as the best performer in Rumble matches. He really shined in them. They were perfect for the explosiveness of his Stunner finisher. It also suited his offense, which was mostly punch & kick based, but also realistic. Even though he was only in 6 Rumbles (others like Kane and Michaels were in more than double that number) he was a major factor in all of them except his first one in 1996. He also held the record for most career eliminations with 36 until Michaels passed him in 2010.
– In re-watching this match I was reminded of how much I enjoyed the “Big Evil” run of The Undertaker. It was so much fun. His promos were very good, he played the bully as well as anybody and he worked with a lot of people like the Hardy’s and Maven in this match that he normally never would. I realize that the Deadman version of the character is what made him famous, made him unique and made him a shitload of money, but from an entertainment standpoint I really enjoyed Big Evil in 2002. My favorite Undertaker year ever is 1997 with 2002 likely in second place.
– I missed Christian’s “at last you’re on your own” theme song. It was cheesy and a bit catchy too! It fit his character.
– I know I’ve touched on it a few times, but it needs to be said again. The Maven elimination on Undertaker is legendary. It might be the best elimination in Rumble history, really. It was a total shocker in a company that doesn’t know how to book shockers too often. There wasn’t much of a feud that followed it, sadly, but they could have elevated Maven if they wanted to. Clearly they had no intention to do that. Here’s a clip.
FACTS & OPINIONS
Person that lasted the longest: Steve Austin at 26:46.
Most Eliminations: Steve Austin and Undertaker with 7.
Best Performers (3): Steve Austin – This was his last Rumble and he was great in it. It’s a shame they didn’t do more with him at WrestleMania X8.
Undertaker – I absolutely loved him in this match. He carried the first third of it very well.
Triple H – Had a lot of energy for his comeback match.
Best Elimination: Maven eliminating Undertaker of course. The best surprise elimination in Rumble history, in my opinion. Kane bodyslamming Big Show out of the ring was pretty great too.
Match Rating: ***3/4 A notch below the year before due to some slow spots in the middle third, but another excellent Rumble for the third year in a row.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading.